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TAKING A “BREAK” FROM BLOGGING: School comes first, unfortunately, and I cannot dedicate the time I would like to towards both–especially while taking grad classes and working full time. 

 

Current giveaway: “Flight of the Goose” by Lesley Thomas

 

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I hope everyone enjoyed (or is enjoying) their holidays! I got a bunch of books from my wishlist that I’m very excited about.  Some of these I’ve seen recommended, others I’ve seen mentioned in Shelf Awareness, and some I’ve just stumbled upon on Amazon.  I hope they’re good!

The Tory Widow by Christine Blevins- historical fiction

We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gilligan Gill- nonfiction

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - historical fiction

Willoughby’s Return: A tale of almost irresistible temptation by Jane Odiwe - fiction, chick lit, Jane Austen inspired fiction

The Importance of Being Emma by Juliet Archer- fiction, chick lit, Jane Austen inspired fiction

Time of Grace by Gabriella West – historical fiction

Blue Diablo: A Corine Solomon Novel by Ann Aguirre – supernatural fiction

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As if that wasn’t enough, I also got a $100 gift card to Amazon which I’m super excited about.  So far I’ve bought:

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson  This was on sale so I grabbed it while I could.  I have the first book but sadly have not had a chance to read it! But, I know it will be awesome- I’ve heard so many good things, so I figured I’d pick up the rest of the series too.

Mortal Sins (World of the Lupi, Book 5) by Eileen Wilks I really enjoyed the first two books in the series, but after that Wilks traveled in a different direction- away from the main characters I enjoyed so much (see how much in my review for book one).  It looks like she returns to them (Lily and Rule) in this book, so I’m giving Wilks another chance!

Blood Magic (World of the Lupi, Book 6) by Eileen Wilks I preordered this one, not out until February, because like book 5 it looks like it will be about Lily and Rule again. Hopefully books 5 and 6 will recapture my love for this series.

Inked by Wilks, Chance, etc I’m very much a fan of these supernatural anothologies.  I’ve only read Wilks and Chance but these short stories are usually winners.

Kitty’s House of Horrors (Kitty Norville, Book 7) by Carrie Vaughn For the most part, my experience with Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series has been overwhelmingly positive. (My review for book 3 is here).  I wasn’t crazy about book 5, but book 6 made me keep buying.  Hope book 7 is great!

Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, Book 5) by Patricia Briggs I love Patricia Briggs’ Mercy series, (and her new Alpha and Omega series in the same universe) so I preordered this even though it isn’t out until March.  (You really can’t go wrong with Briggs- unless you count the new Mercy Thompson: Homecoming.  But it’s important to note that that book is a graphic novel, so it’s really hard to compare it to her other work.)

Lover Mine: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward This was my final preorder (it’s not out until April), but I really do love this series.  It’s different from what I usually read, a little more sex and romance, but it still has the strong urban fantasy vibe which is what keeps me interested (and makes the romance readers mad about lol). This is book 8, but I have reviewed book 4 here and book 6 here, if you want to see my thoughts.

Missed my last post? It was: REVIEW: “SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME: TRUE ADVENTURES OF A WANNABE PRINCESS” BY JERRAMY FINE

Current giveaway: “Flight of the Goose” by Lesley Thomas

  

 

Title: Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess

Author: Jerramy Fine

Format: Hardcover

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 978-1592403523

Publisher: Gotham

Date of Publication: January 10, 2008

2.5 stars: I really wanted to like this

Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess

I bought this book eagerly, especially after seeing all the positive reviews on Amazon. I wish I could be giving it one, and I know this my review will probably not do well in the rating system, as I’ve seen all the semi-negative reviews get tons of negative votes and comments…. but I want to be honest.

The blurb says that when she was six, Jerramy Fine decided she would marry Windsor family member Peter Phillips.  Great, cute- but the problem is that Jerramy didn’t grow up.  I understand wanting to be a princess, pretty much all girls do. But there is reality. I mean, Jerramy is essentially a groupie. If by chance any English royalty ever struck up a friendship with her, they’d most likely be appalled and creeped out when they found out her whole life was spent obsessed with them. Many reviewers have said they believe this story is about never giving up on your dreams… but really to me it is all about a girl who was obsessed with somebody she never met and didn’t know. Jerramy really comes off like a stalker. It would have been different if she just loved England, and didn’t have such an agenda.

Perhaps if this story was fiction, and not a memoir, I’d be more accepting of it. However I could not get into it. I don’t blame all of it on Jerramy of course. I couldn’t help but be appalled when reading a part about Jerramy and her mother being in the grocery store and her mother yelled at another customer about what something was made of. Then when Jerramy complained her mother had embarrassed her, her mom replied something along the lines of: “If I’ve made one person question what they were eating, then it was worth it.” I’m sorry, but that really struck something with me. I cannot see it ever being okay to embarrass your child like that. It’s no wonder Jerramy wanted to escape from her family.

Again, perhaps if this was called fiction, and not a memoir, I’d be more accepting. As it is, although I wanted to like it, I cannot give it a positive review.  And the majority of the reviews for this one are exactly that: positive.  So am I just not getting it? I don’t know. 

Make up your own mind by buying your own copy on Amazon.

Missed my last post? It was:  BUYING BOOKS AS PRESENTS

  Current giveaway: “Flight of the Goose” by Lesley Thomas

So it’s that time of year again. In a perfect world I would give books to everyone as gifts. I like reading, most of them like reading, books are amazing…. everyone wins. That being said, I’m always amazed at how difficult it is to buy books for other people. I know what I like, but that’s not necessarily what they like. And for some of them, I know what they like, but I still can’t seem to direct that towards the book that would be perfect for them. Now if everyone only had Librarything like I did then it would make book buying a lot easier! But as it is, I’m forced to either do my best at guessing what they would like, or not buying them books at all and settling on stupid gift cards. I like gift cards as much as the next person, but I wish I didn’t end up giving out so many!  Anybody have tips on giving books as presents??

 

Missed my last post? It was: REVIEW: “MISTRESS OF MELLYN” BY VICTORIA HOLT

 Current giveaway: “Flight of the Goose” by Lesley Thomas

 

Title: Mistress of Mellyn

Author: Victoria Holt

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 336

ISBN: 978-0312384159

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of Publication: December 23, 2008

4 stars: There’s a reason for all those good reviews!

Mistress of Mellyn
 

Though many other reviewers mention this, I really do agree with the fact that this book is a cross between Rebecca and Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics). In any case, it is hard to think of a story where a governess works for a widower without thinking of “Jane Eyre”, and that is exactly what happens in this story. And it is hard to think of a story with the ghostly presence of the former wife, without thinking of “Rebecca”.  But if you like both of those, like me, you’ll like this too! 

Though this story echoed of both of those older books, I still found myself drawn into the story, and enjoying it. The main character, Marty aka Martha aka Miss Leigh, was interesting enough and had a bit more of a spine than Bronte’s Jane Eyre. I thought the twist about the little girl explained events very well, though I felt that the girl warmed to Marty a little quickly.

If I had any criticism about this book, it would be that the romance also developed a little quickly. I felt like it came out of nowhere, or just that there weren’t enough clues pointing to the fact that it was developing. Overall though, I really do recommend this book, and I am not surprised at all the glowing reviews it has received.

Also, many might not know, but Victoria Holt is also known under quite a few different names.  The most popular- or at least the one I’d heard of- is Jean Plaidy!  She was a busy, busy lady.

(Currently at ‘bargain price’ at Amazon for $6.00)

Missed my last post? It was: BOOKS IN YOUR CAR

Current giveaway: “Flight of the Goose” by Lesley Thomas

So anyone who has been in my car knows that it is super messy. In my defense, usually I’m the only one in it. If I have to drive someone somewhere I just throw whatever is in the front seat into the back seat. So it makes sense that the stuff back there would pile up…. Okay it really needs to be cleaned out lol. That brings me to the subject of this post. I started to clean out the back seat and as I did it, I realized that I had quite a lot of books back there. They just kept piling up! When I had them altogether I counted them. Guess how many? 17. That’s not an exaggeration! I had 17 books in the back seat of my car.

Some were fiction, some nonfiction, some biographies, some textbooks. Basically tons of different kinds of books. All of which I had started at one point or another. Since I read so many and I’m constantly buying new ones, it is very easy for me to move onto another book (or two or three) if the first one doesn’t immediately capture me or leave a lasting impression.

So my question is: how many books should you have in your car? For all you book readers out there, I’m sure you understand the necessity of having a book in your car.  But how many is too many? Clearly in my case, my 17 are not necessary.  But how many should the average reader have?

Missed my last post?  It was: REVIEW: “THE AGENCY” BY ALLY O’BRIEN

Current giveaway: “Flight of the Goose” by Lesley Thomas

Title: The Agency

Author: Ally O’Brien

Format: Hardcover

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 978-0312379445

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: February 3, 2009

4 stars: Way better than I expected

The Agency
 

“Eight thirty-seven in the morning, en route from Putney Heath to Piccadilly, first crisis of the day.  People push the crisis button in my business like a lab rat pushes a lever to get pellets of food, but this is a big one.  Lowell Bardwright was just found hanged by his Hermès tie, his fingers clenched in a death grip around his dick.”

(The Agency, page 1)

I kinda flip-flopped on how I felt about this book. It definitely caught my interest, but then again it’s hard to avoid a first page that mentions erotic asphyxiation. I guess you have to figure out whether or not you can handle a book that is in your face about certain things, among them a woman who knows what she wants and does something about it.

In our society women having sex has a negative connotation. Men who have lots of sex are applauded by their own sex, while women who have sex are considered loose. I admit, as a woman, I’ve felt that a woman was loose or slutty if she had a lot of sex, and that’s a view I think I need to overcome.

The main character in this book can be likened to Samantha from “Sex in the City”. She has sex, she isn’t ashamed of it, and she has no problem talking about it- for the most part. She’s fresh, and she’s what makes the book interesting. The bonus is that she works in publishing, which made it all the more interesting to me- someone crazy about all things books.

I ended up enjoying this book, and eagerly hoping for a sequel. That’s not to say it was all fun and games…. and sex. There are moments that I got all teary-eyed, as events unfolded that I couldn’t stop and hurt me (along with the main character). But yeah, if you think you can handle it– pick this book up asap.

Missed my last post?  It was: INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY: “FLIGHT OF THE GOOSE BY LESLEY THOMAS”

Flight of the Goose by Lesley Thomas was kindly offered to me by the author herself.  She also generously sent me a second copy to give away to a lucky reader.  I’ve had this interview sitting around for awhile and am sorry to say that I never got around to posting it.  So without further ado, here’s Lesley Thomas and I discussing her book.  See the bottom of the interview for details on how to win your own copy of Flight of the Goose.

 

 

Flight of the Goose

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Lesley Thomas was nice enough to say yes when I asked for a short interview.  So a big thank you and welcome!

Q.  My first question is about the cover art of “Flight of the Goose”.  The front is what looks like a sepia photograph depicting a beautiful landscape (my guess is tundra?) with a child running gleefully through it.  Did you have any input with the cover and are you pleased with the result?

A. That is an old family photo. It was taken in the region in which my book is set, Bering Strait. It is tundra, Inupiaq territory and the land of so many of my relatives through marriage, and their ancestors going back centuries. My Inupiaq stepfather used to be carried on his grandmothers back through those very hills as she foraged. I grew up there too and spent much time alone in those high hills, roaming.

Though a few readers, some macho men, thought the cover should have shown a shaman mask or perhaps something with guns, (saying the girl is too “domestic” and more for a woman’s novel, like that is a bad thing. Well, I am a woman and women read my book as well as men, and the book is about a woman. I love the photo and what it represents. I think showing a child is perfect. Perhaps she is the child born from the union of the two characters. And the photo shows the land, such a big part of the story. I love how the small mountain in the photo was exactly like the mountain my main character roamed upon in summer and through her childhood (picking blueberries). And the hills are of course where Gretchen has her spiritual connection to the Earth and where she spies on her birdman. The photo doesn’t show it very clearly but the little girl has blueberries on her face from gorging on them like a bear cub, from the ancient traditional freedom of “summer camp”.

Q.  What inspired you to write this book?  I confess to knowing little to none about Alaska’s people and/or traditions.  Did you hope to enlighten those who may be in my shoes? 

A. I didn’t really set out to enlighten others so much as to understand myself better, maybe. An identity thing. Like the first part of my novel where narrator says how you have to look back from a distance to understand. I had a very rare and complex upbringing. The Arctic is my homeland and where all my family still lives; it is where I grew up and was formed – I always feel moved very deeply in my soul when in the Arctic, more than other places on Earth. My best friends were born there and died there. In addition, I am deeply bonded with the Inupiaq culture, from my early exposure to village life, and my mother encouraged me to assimilate, then through the family marriages that meshed outsiders and Native. I was taught – nurtured in – the Inupiaq ways by many traditional mentors and then my stepfather and his mother, so it is an intrinsic part of me; I am bicultural. (I think part of it might be genetic too, since my grandfather was from the Arctic, in Norway’s Lapland. It looks exactly the same as the photo, and there are reindeer, wolverine, the same berries, the same ways of sharing and honoring spirits and elders. And I am part Sami so am descended from hunting-gathering nomads of the Arctic). I also wrote the book to honor an old childhood friend who died at a very early age – in a way the story is a eulogy for her. Her spirit visited me a lot at night in dreams while I was writing the story. She influenced me – and it – tremendously. At times I felt like was channeling the Otherworld while writing, in a shamanistic way.

That’s the mystic’s answer – Freud would say I had ‘complexes’ to work out. Whenever I write a book it always manages to get set in the Arctic, as if I am unconsciously compelled to go there. I wrote a science fiction novel and even it was on an Arctic-like planet with hunter gatherers. But I also always write about the conflicts and creative union of culture, the old and the new, outsider and indigenous, good and bad, all ambiguity you get when you combine two very different world views, and that is no doubt due to the way I was raised in my bicultural family. My next books (see bottom question) will be set in the Arctic.

All that being said, sure, I wanted to let others in on the great beauty of the Arctic, its animals and people, and to warn them that is very fragile and endangered. I did want to preserve the old ways somehow, and to honor them.

Q.  I would think your surroundings would influence your writing but I notice you now live in Seattle.  Just out of curiosity, how much of the book was written in Seattle and how much in Alaska? 

A. I don’t know – I visit family a lot and spend summer in the homeland, asking all kinds of questions and absorbing new cultural and earth lessons. I never stop learning or researching and would like to keep amending Flight of the Goose. I keep learning new things about subsistence and the Inupiaq traditions as the old people up there open up more and more. My brothers learn more from their wives, and Elders feel safer to talk about the old ways now that outsiders don’t disparage, abuse the knowledge, use it against Natives through colonization, or mock it racistly (not that I ever doubted- I always honored ancient ways. But the fact remains I have a white identity, I sure look white, and will always be an outsider). The old people also feel an urgency to pass knowledge and stories along while they are still alive.

Readers ask me a lot about why I live in Seattle when I so obviously love and know the Arctic. My living in Seattle but channeling and writing about the Far North reminds me of the Kite Runner author, writing about Afghanistan as an immigrant/refugee living in California. I have a love-hate relationship with the Arctic; it is not the land I want to get away from or feel pained by, or the bears (though I fear them as well as honor them) or mosquitoes or the cold and dark or the old culture, it is the society of Alaska I feel pained by. The dysfunction of the new Alaska. It is a frontier, a colony, a deeply ravaged land, the people in post traumatic stress and ongoing stress and I get traumatized by the emotional pain, especially as a sensitive, empathic woman.

Q.  How has your life changed since you wrote “Flight of the Goose”, and do you have plans for writing another novel sometime in the future?

A. It changed big time when I was doing a lot of author events and getting to teach at writers conferences, and took a hiatus from my day job. I got to make friends with other authors from all over the nation, and wear the hat of author for the first time and it felt great. I loved it. But now I am back to the daily grind of teaching ESL for a living, having learned the lesson that for most of us authors, we have to keep the day job. Literary fiction is not very lucrative for most of us, even if we get good reviews.

I will write another novel – probably an eco=thriller – set in the very post modern Arctic. Global warming is altering the Arctic swiftly and radically, more than any other place on Earth except the Moldaves. The renewed plans for rampant oil drilling, right off the coast of my hometown and the Chukchi Sea adds another dimension.

My other plan is to write a novel set in the ancient Arctic of Scandinavia and delve into my own genetic past.

Q.  Finally, let’s finish with my usual final bookish questions! What kind of books do you like to read? What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author? Finally, what are you reading now and why?

A. I just finished a book that delighted me: Finding Nouf, a mystery set in modern Saudi Arabia. I know a lot of Saudis at the university and since I was a kid was always fascinated with both archaic Bedouin and modern Wahabi-state controlled urbanites, especially the lives of women there. This book was well written and reminded me of Martin Cruz Smith’s work (he is a favorite, especially Polar Star) I read some reviews of Finding Nouf that criticized the author for being incorrect on some of her facts, but I feel a lot sympathy for that. We can’t be perfect. Also, I know editors and marketing teams are responsible for a lot; they will override an author and change things culturally if they feel it will make American readers like the book more.

Oh, to get back to your question: I love Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible, Peter Matthiesen’s At Play in the Field of the Lord, and the post-Victorians, especially Thomas Hardy. I love Dickens and Conrad, the Romantic poets (grew up on them, since we didn’t have TV). My first adult novel, which I read and loved at the age of 7 was To Kill a Mockingbird, followed quickly by Never Cry Wolf by Mowat.

This year I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction political science, economics, the rise of American Empire, and – if you will – apocalyptic science about climate change and peak oil, ecological breakdown. I am reading that “downer” stuff because I am concerned, and want to know what is happening and what is likely to happen. They are like my oracles. And I always love anything about Carl Jung or Joseph Campbell, or world mythology and anthropology.

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Huge thanks to Lesley Thomas.  If you’d like to be entered to win this amazing book, leave a comment here telling me why you want to win a copy of this book.  For an extra chance, you can blog/tweet about this contest- but be sure to tell me you did it, and provide a link :)

 

Missed my last post?  It was: FOCUSING ON CHARLAINE HARRIS: SOOKIE AND TRUE BLOOD FAQ

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